Posted by: ShawnC | July 1, 2009

‘Organics’ get credibility with new federal standards

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090630/organic_standards_090630/20090630/?hub=TorontoNewHome

Updated: Tue Jun. 30 2009 2:45:12 PM

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has given a new level of credibility to the organics industry, establishing a national set of standards that products must now meet in order to be designated “organic.”

Under the new Organic Products Regulations, only products that meet specific requirements set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will qualify for the organic designation.

The new rules require that products with multiple ingredients must have 95 per cent organic content in order to be labelled with the new Biologique Canada Organic Logo.

If a product doesn’t meet that standard, the producer will have to specify on the label the percentage of organic materials that the product includes.

“This organic logo allows consumers to make informed, confident choices,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a news release.

“At the same time, the new regulations will allow Canadian organic farmers to have their products recognized in this emerging market.”

The standards apply to the following products:

food and drink intended for consumption

  • livestock
  • livestock feed
  • the cultivation of plants

The regulations will apply to both domestic and imported products, the CFIA said. But products coming from the U.S. that meet American organic standards won’t have to undergo re-certification.

Instead, an “equivalency” agreement has been struck between the two nations so that certified organic products in each country retain their status regardless of what side of the border they are on.

“This agreement gives Canadian consumers more organic choices and organic farmers increased trade opportunities,” stated the release.

Stephane O’Neil, a spokesperson the for CFIA’s Canada Organics Office, said the new standards create a new standard of fairness for producers.

“Under the voluntary system producers who did want to provide certification for their customers incurred costs, and the producers who didn’t, we could say they had an advantage,” O’Neil told CTV.ca

“But now certification is required for everyone. We’ve created a level playing field for consumers.”

O’Neil said some organic producers opposed the implementation of the national standard on philosophical grounds, believing government intervention is unnecessary in the industry.

But the Organic Council of Ontario says the standards will give greater assurance to people about the quality and value of organic products – and provide a clearer guideline for those who produce or are looking to produce organic foods.

“Those who might have thought they were organic, but didn’t know exactly what that meant, now have a precedence to follow,” Ted Zettle, a board of director for the Council, told CTV.ca in a phone interview from Guelph, Ont.

“The new regulations will also give the CFIA the ability to enforce those standards, so if there were fraudulent claims, the government would be able to follow up on those and deal with them.”

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